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12 Common Natural Hair Myths

Avatar • Sep 29, 2011

Although natural hair is becoming more and more common, there are still a lot of misconceptions about it. Here MoTown Girl explores 12 common natural hair myths.

via MoTown Girl

1. “Natural Hair is Very Strong”

This is a misconception. It may look or even feel rough and tough, but it isn’t. Natural hair is actually fragile and has to be handled with much care. Why? Because the strands curl and bend so much that each curl is a possible breaking point because the bend in the strand weakens the shaft. In fact, many people assume people with natural hair have thick and strong hair strands when in fact they can have fine and wiry strands which can break easily.

2. “Natural Hair Can’t Be Combed.”

Naturally curly/kinky hair is not meant to be combed and styled like straight hair. Curly/kinky hair requires a whole new mind set in styling and you can’t work with kinky hair the way you do with relaxed hair. I can not and will not attempt to get a comb through my hair dry — only while it’s soaking wet with conditioner.

3. “Products are Only Made For Black or White Hair”

Lets face it, companies want to make a profit. Everyone knows that black women spend more on hair care than any other demographic so guess what — it’s all about the green. If you’re concerned about spending your money with black owned companies, realize that many companies such as “African Pride” are no longer black owned. Products may be geared towards a demographic (and have pictures of Africa and black women everywhere), but the owners don’t discriminate. Plus, there are many products that work well for a variety of ethnicities and hair textures.

4. “Natural Hair is Only for the Political ‘Soul Sistas’ ”

This statement is not necessarily true. Maybe in the late 60s and 70s, but not now. Many women are simply fed up with conforming to a BS beauty standard, tired of the same 6 week routine, tired of running from rain, humidity and water parks, tired of damage, etc. There is real information out there on caring for and dealing with natural hair that really wasn’t out there before, and women are doing research on their own instead of depending on what a stylist tells them.

5. “Petroleum and Mineral Oil are Good for Natural Hair — They’re in all the Black Hair Products!”

Products marketed for Black women usually contain petroleum and mineral oil for two reasons: they give our hair an artifical shine and there are cheap products to make and sell. Petroleum and mineral oil clog the pores on your scalp and coat the strand, making hair much more prone to damage and breakage in the long run. If you are using an expensive product and one of these items are near the top of the ingredient list, sorry to say but you’re most likely wasting money.**

**Editor’s Note: Although Mineral Oil and Petroleum based products are not good as moisturizers, they have proven to be effective sealants. Click here for an article on the benefits of mineral oil

6. “Natural Hair Can’t Grow Long”

Think about when you relaxed, how many times you had to get a touch up. Every 6–8 weeks or so? That is all new hair that has grown out of your scalp. Keeping the strands on your head is the goal for hair growth. Also, the curlier the hair the more shrinkage you will have. Therefore it will appear that it’s not growing at the same rate as someone with straight or wavy hair. Black women’s highly textured hair does tend to be more fragile than non-black women’s hair, often due to our curl pattern (every point along the hair strand that coils is very fragile and prone to breakage.)

The longer the hair is, the more care it needs. So oil those ends, give yourself deep conditioning treatments, wear protective styles, eat right, drink water and exercise to grow and retain the hair. Black hair does grow. I believe the main reason black women don’t see this growth is because we damage our hair to the point that it’s constantly breaking off. You just have to be gentle with it and keep it clean.

Also, when natural hair is being subjected to blow dryers, flat-irons/curling irons, harsh hair color and/or chemicals, it may suffer, break off and will not *appear* to be growing.

7. “Natural Hair is Difficult and Unmanageable”

True, it can be difficult if you don’t have the proper knowledge. But you also have to define manageability for yourself. Sure it does take time to detangle, get the knots out and do treatments, but by carefully caring for your hair, you can reap a full healthy head of hair. In my experience, I enjoy doing and taking care of my hair. Also keep in mind that listening to your hair instead of fighting it will make things go a lot smoother.

8. “Relaxers Promote Growth and Make Hair More Manageable”

Again, you have to define manageability for yourself, but relaxers have nothing to do with hair growth. The increased length of relaxed hair (as compared to natural) has more to do with the lack of shrinkage. A relaxed and natural woman might have the same length hair, with the relaxed hair falling to the shoulder and natural hair coming to the ear. But if the curl pattern is stretched out, it will touch the shoulders also.

9. “You Must Apply Grease to the Hair and Scalp”

I remember as a young girl getting my scalp “greased” in the kitchen. True it did not harm me and my hair grew but simply put, it is not necessary. The scalp can produce oil on its own. If you find that your scalp is particularly dry, try light oils like jojoba, sweet almond, coconut or olive. These oils are easily dissolved into the scalp and, if used sparingly, do not leave the hair greasy. Try to avoid putting heavy grease directly on the scalp (see the above statement regarding mineral oil and petroleum). Also keep in mind that since kinky hair has a curly formation, it takes a lot for the scalp’s oils to reach the ends compared to a person with straight hair.

10. “Trimming Makes Natural Hair Grow.”

Even though trimming will improve the overall health of your hair by getting rid of split ends, it has nothing to do with the hair that grows out of your scalp. By trimming your hair, you are able to hold on to strands that don’t split, so you are able to see length because it’s not breaking and splitting. I had a friend who would hold on to her split, see-through ends in an attempt to grow her hair long. But she had to get a major haircut once a year to get rid of the splits, so each year she had to cut her hair shorter and shorter to make it healthy again. It was a never ending cycle that could have been prevented.

11. “You Shouldn’t Wash Natural Hair Too Often”

I grew up hearing that you can’t wash too often because our hair is very fragile. Maybe with relaxed hair, but washing is wonderful for natural hair. However, strong shampoos can be drying. If you do use shampoo be sparing with cleaners that contain sodium laurel sulphate. If SLS is too harsh for your strands, try a “conditioner wash”, using conditioner to cleanse your hair instead of shampoo.

12. “Water Will Dry Out Natural Hair”

Water is the best moisturizer for natural hair so don’t be afraid to apply it! The key to maintaining a moisture balance is RETAINING the water that you do apply to your hair via sealing. Here is an article listing the two steps to effective moisturization

I love this list! It’s spot on. What are some natural hair myths you’ve heard? And have you ever believed items on this list?
For more great natural hair advice, check out MoTown Girl.

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Earth Angel
Earth Angel
9 years ago

Most of the myths I’ve heard had more to do with the social impact of having natural hair:

You won’t be able to get a job–people (white) are too prejudiced”

You won’t be able to get a man–boys like straight hair”

You know the deal! SMH. PLEASE! I’ve had to deal with more prejudice from my mama and other Black folks than anything else, and my man LOVES my curls! 🙂

Natural Panamanian
Natural Panamanian
9 years ago
Reply to  Earth Angel

I been told about the“You won’t get a job” part. Few weeks ago, I went to a job interview with my hair in updo and curly bang. I confidently answered all the questions. Guess what? I got hired for the Credit Union Company to do their website. No one at my new job(Whites and Blacks) complained about my natural hair. They actually admired my hair and my skills. It all about confident and keep it professional.

JJ
JJ
9 years ago

Glad to know I didn’t see anything I didn’t know yet.

Eboni
Eboni
9 years ago

Awesome article…I hope new naturals are reading this, because every thing is spot on!!

Oh Bother
Oh Bother
9 years ago

My fave is that if you are natural you should be a vegan and blah blah blah. Me being natural has nothing to do with my health. It actually had more to do with me embracing an image of myself that I feel is most attractive in my own eyes. I hate the image of naturals fitting one mold. So stop staring at me when I eat my twice a year Big Mac. I feel guilty enough. lol. j/k.

Omolara
Omolara
9 years ago
Reply to  Oh Bother

I wouldn’t say be a vegan (I like honey and Japanese food way too much to ever commit to that), but it’s definitely better to eat fewer processed foods and more whole foods. Healthy hair starts within, so putting better food into your body will yield better results with your hair. Sometimes, you’ve just gotta have your fast food fix. 🙂 I think a lot of us are on reduced meat diets because we see that it’s not really necessary, and strive to put better things in our bodies. For me, being natural is a whole body lifestyle thing. I… Read more »

June
June
9 years ago
Reply to  Omolara

My being healthy is not tied to my hair. I have been eating health-ish (hehe) and exercising for years. I am going natural because I got tired of the dependence on stylist and because I thought textured hair would look good on me.

KJ
KJ
9 years ago

I still think that the belief that our hair is weaker than or doesn’t grow as fast as our straight haired counterparts is a myth(accounting for shrinkage). If they did what we did to our hair they wouldn’t have any either. They condition and add water to their hair almost daily, use less heat,less chemicals and they never leave their hair in tight braids to dry rot for a month on or two. Yes we do have to watch for ripping through curls but if they didn’t condition their hair they would have to fight tangles more too! My friend… Read more »

hmmm
hmmm
9 years ago
Reply to  KJ

cosign 100%

June
June
9 years ago
Reply to  KJ

Absolutely agree. I was once told by a “veteran” natural that black shouldn’t be wet daily because of hygral fatigue. While hygral fatigue is a reality, if people’s hair fell out simply because they rinsed and conditioned it once a day there will be many more bald non-black people walking around. Just saying. Ww have been taught to put the least amount of effort to get healthy hair and the most amount of effort to destroy it.

LBell
LBell
9 years ago

Seems to me, based on these comments, that there should be a follow-up post titled “x Myths about Women with Natural Hair.” 😉

Niya
Niya
6 years ago
Reply to  LBell

Cosign that sister

hmmm
hmmm
9 years ago

I have 4b hair with thick strands that are VERY strong so the first myth is true for some people.

Z
Z
9 years ago

FYI on dugstore products that are on sale from 9/25 thru 10/1/11 saw this mentioned on lovedestinee blogs and figured you ladies might be interested or not :). Walgreens Select Oral‑B, Crest, Pantene, Secret, Gillette or Olay Personal Care BOGO 50% off All Yes to Blueberries, Cucumbers, Carrots and Tomatoes Skincare BOGO 50% off $10 off select Conair Select Hair Appliances or Mirror Revlon Foundation, Concealer, Powder, Blush, Lip and ColorStay Cosmetics BOGO 50% off Cover Girl Cosmetics and Select Olay Skin Care BOGO 50% off Maybelline Cosmetics BOGO 50% off Sally Hansen Nail Treatments or Color or Lip Care… Read more »

CottonandCurls
9 years ago

Not sure I agree with the combing bit. I do think our cottony curly hair needs to be combed differently from those with straight hair, with a wide tooth comb and less frequently. The point of combing is to smooth the hair and prevent tangles but in my opinion you simply don’t need to comb your hair daily to prevent tangles especially if the hair is stretched. Also, since many natural styles are organic and free forming and ergo do not lend themselves to smoothing then for that reason there is no need for daily combing either. A person with… Read more »

Pink Panties & Leopard Lipstick

Great piece!

brit
brit
8 years ago

I don’t comb my hair. Yeah people look at my hair and tell me you got white girl’s hair “Curly”.. Then If i have you hair, I would do this and that to it… Natural Hair take great care… Being buy racial Doesnt mean my hair is gonna grow super long… It never grew past bra straplength..Also, my scalp gets so oily now natural because i am not burning my natural oils by apply relaxer.. Happy to be Natural

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7 years ago

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[…] 12 Common Natural Hair Myths […]

NHCN
5 years ago

In addition to these natural hair myths, here are also some of the common misconceptions about a naturalista’s hair: http://www.naturalhaircarenews.com/2015/01/24/natural-hair-news-from-around-the-web-9-things-some-white-people-dont-understand-about-natural-hair/

Afro Madame
3 years ago

In West Africa they use shea butter and coconut oil to manage their heir. That’s a once a week ritual for every women and they do their hair one to each other. Most of the myths mentioned above are not relevant in Africa, mainly because the climate don’t affect ladies natural hair as much.

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